Leverkusen's strikers were the stars of the show as they hammer Gladbach in BayArena. Needing a lift after stagnant results, Leverkusen turned to a veteran to help dominate an in-form Gladbach team.
Making his first Bundesliga start since October, Stefan Kiessling made it clear early on that he had come to play. The 31-year-old veteran was all over the park, winning and holding up the ball and putting in the most tackles. Kiessling pounded in two goals with his head in each half, and helped Chicharito complete his first hat-trick for Leverkusen. The best of the bunch came from a fine flick from Kiessling that set up Chicharito. The Mexican obliged with a shimmy, a shake and a right-footed strike to double the score.
Chicharito’s first goal sparked a flurry of attacking intent from the home side as Leverkusen used the next 15 minutes to put the game away. Kiessling completed his brace off of a corner - a goal which took him past Uwe Seeler on the Bundesliga's all-time scoring charts (138). Each break was more potent, and every chance looked menacing. It was only a matter of time before Chicharito blew the game open with two great finishes in two minutes.
A touch of Kiessling
Normally not a head coach who plays with two strikers, Roger Schmidt stuck both Kiessling and Chicharito together for just the fourth time this season. Kiessling's used the opportunity to crack the number nine's one-dimensional stereotype, and the unexpected combination worked in harmony. The striker's adrenaline jolt kicked in at just the right time for Leverkusen, the club legend injecting energy into a team desperately in need of some passion after four winless results.
The Kiessling stroke of lightning landed on a tired Foals side, who were knocked out of European competition earlier in the week. Without Fabian Johnson or Raffael starting for Gladbach, Leverkusen ran them off the park, and chances were few and far between. Kiessling and Chicharito could not be stopped, and the attacking force handed Gladbach their first lost under Andre Schubert.
Kiessling elected to spend a good chunk of time after the game with the fans, who welcomed their club icon with open arms. There was a feeling that this was the unsettled striker's last home game in the BayArena, the lure of more minutes on the pitch may prove too great in the approaching January transfer window. For a man many had discarded though, this performance silenced his critics and showed there is plenty of football left in the 31-year-old's legs.